Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Using the Power Rack for Size Increase - Jim Hafer (1973)


Some years ago (1960), Iron Man magazine ran some articles on a system of training that was to really deliver. It was highly recommended as a way of gaining strength. And it's true, it does work. It is still one of the best ways to increase strength. Basically, it involved pushing or pulling against an immovable object. It was known as Isometric Contraction.

But then a new slant was introduced. A lifter named Frank Spellman was given credit for discovering another approch to strength training: limited movement or Isometronic Training. And its worth was not only as a strength builder, it also has tremendous value as a size builder. 

More on Frank Spellman here: 

In 1964, Iron Man magazine ran an article on this new type of rack training. 

Note: September 1964 -- "Power Rack Training for Maximum Muscular Development" 

I was in high school at the timne. So, in Phoenix Christian High School's workshop, four 2 x 6's were measured and drilled. With the help of my older brother, these were soon built into a power rack on the patio behind our house. (Perhaps it should be called a Size Rack, for while using this rack my bodyweight went from around 175 pounds to over 260 in around a 10-month period.) 

There are different ways to use the power rack. In the 1964 article, a system was described titled "The Theory of Maximum Fatigue." 

Note: There is a June 1964 Ironman Lifting News article with the above title. 

Basically, you simply broke an exercise into two or three parts (low, middle, top, etc.) and used a certain system of reps and "holds" either off or against pins in the rack.

I also read in a magazine that when wanting to gain weight, Vern Weaver would use a form of squatting in the power rack. 

"Ultimately, Vern became able to do sets and reps with 585 while squatting from a dead stop in the rack." -- Jan Dellinger.  

By the use of pins, you place the barbell at a height in the rack so that  when you are under it, in the squatting position, your thighs are at or slightly above parallel to the ground. You would stand up with the weight from this position. 

It worked. My own thighs went up to around 31 inches when i was using this this exercise, and a heavy eating program.

Why does rack training work? If you've read some of Arthur Jones' articles, then you may remember what he has said about the need for a lot of resistance in the fully contracted position. And doing barbell exercises in the way they have been commonly done for years does not meet this need adequately.

And while power rack training does not meet this need completely, it does a much better job than the way barbell training is usually practiced. Let me explain. 

In rack training, you can use a weight that is right for full squats, then add weight to the barbell and perform half squats, then add even more weight to the bar and perform quarter squats. Using this type of training, you will have much heavier resistance in the position near full contraction than you would if you were only doing full squats. And, or course, this applies to other exercises also.

Power rack training does work. You can place a much heavier load on the muscles than when using regular training. It can help to greatly increase your size and strength. 

Now for the program . . . 

I'll use the bench press as an example (this method applies to other exercises also). Place a bench in the rack. Place the pins in the rack so that when you are under the barbell (which is resting on the pins), it just touches your chest or is slightly above your chest. From here, it is pressed to arms' length over your chest. This is the first position.

In the second position, the barbell is set where, when gripping it, your upper arms are parallel to the ground or a little above parallel. From this position press the barbell to arms' length.

In the final position, set the barbewll at a height about 4-6 inches below where it would be if you were holding it at arms' length over your chest. From here, press it to arms' length. Of course, this will be a short movement.

Now for the sets and reps. In the first position (low), use 3 sets of 5 reps. The first set is with a medium weight for a warmup. Add weight to the bar and perform 5 reps. This weight should be so heavy that you can only get 5 reps. Now rest a minute or two, than take a little weight off the barbell and perform 5 more reps.

Now to the second (middle) position. Do one set of 5 reps. Use as much weight as you can. 

Now move the bar up to the third (top) position. Again do one set of 5 reps. And again, with a lot of weight.

On all sets (except the warmup set in the first position), use a weight where you can only get 5 reps. However, if you can do 6 or 7 reps on any of the sets, then do it. In other words, don't stop if you can do more. It may take a few workouts to find the right weight for the sets. Don't use a weight that is so heavy you cannot get at least 5 reps.

Here are the exercises: 

1) Bench press; performed as described. 

2) High pull with a clean grip; on this exercise use only the first two positions (low and middle). 

3) Squat; performed as described.

4) Curl; performed as described.

5) Press behind neck; performed as described.

This program is to be performed ONLY TWO DAYS PER WEEK. For example, Monday and Thursday. 

Use a breathing exercise between sets of the squat. Either the Rader chest pull, or the light straight arm pullover on bench. Also, after a month on this program add one set of bentover barbell rowing for 12 reps. This is not done on the power rack. Keep going up in weight when you can on all exercises. 

As far as nutrition goes, get plenty of protein. Cottage cheese is also a good food to concentrate on. Also, whole milk. If you eat a 24-oz container of cottage cheese a day, this will add over 130 grams of protein to your diet. This, along with two quarts of whole milk, will give over 190 grams in addition to the rest of the food you take in daily. 

Get your carbohydrates from fruit, and try to stay away from junk food. If you don't like the taste of cottage cheese, try adding unsweetened applesauce or unsweetened pineapple chunks to it. 

Enjoy Your Lifting! 




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